From Atlanta flower punks The Black Lips to Mississippi's Bass Drum of Death, the past five years have seen a tsunami-sized resurgence of lo-fi and neo-psychedelic sounds washing over the airwaves with sun-drenched lyrics. Although nothing particularly new, the retro garage revival — birthed from the late '50s sensibilities of The Kingsmen and The Animals — retains a certain romanticism from those nights old rockabilly artists spent sweating in garages and days they lazed on the beach.
Somewhere in those lethargic afternoons and the lingering scent of saltwater, a distinctively Californian sound arose. Part jangly surf rock, part retro revival, L.A.'s own Allah-Las embrace those leisurely summer days spent cruising unhurriedly down the 1. Today, via the label Innovative Leisure, the Allah-Las drop their full-length self-titled debut album.
The album is sunny and nostalgic. The Nick Waterhouse-produced single “Catamaran” drifts along with a breezy chorus, while the slightly vindictive “Don't You Forget It” writes a resentful letter to a past lover.
Despite the retro sensibility, the Allah-Las identify more with Ed Sullivan and surf than beers shotgunned FIDLAR-style. The four also have an affinity for the production of old, crackling records. In a past interview with LA Weekly, bassist Spencer Dunham explained that the retro vibes operate on deeper levels than just an aesthetic: “For us to make the sound that we really want, we work a lot better in a studio setting with $3,000 microphones from 1953.” It's really no surprise, then, that the four met while working together at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, their affinity for the past uniting them both sonically and conceptually.
So how do the Allah-Las differ from fuzzed out contemporaries such as King Tuff and White Fence? Well, maybe they don't so much. After a while, the tracks on Allah-Las blur into the same heady, dreamlike haze that a scorching afternoon has on your brain. But that isn't so much of a problem when you're cruising down an expanse of freeway in Los Angeles, finding a strange sort of kinship with the smog and sky, Allah-Las' debut in your car. There's something beautiful in that.
The Allah-Las' self-titled album is released today. The band plays El Rey Theater October 21st on the final stop of their tour.